Section: Questions Category: Miscellaneous
TAGS:family relationship Ger marriage
|Miscellaneous - convert and non jewish family|
|Submitted by nikki Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank|
I've got a question regarding what happens post conversion to a converts interactions with their non-Jewish family. In my case, my father but not mother is Jewish, and hence I've had to convert to Orthodoxy in order to be halachically Jewish. But recently someone said that I should not have any (private life/personal)interactions with my Christian mother as she is an idolatar. Throughout my life my mom has only encouraged me in my Jewish life, right from organising my travels to Reform Hebrew school, to being camp mom on Habonim summer camps... I'm stuck as to what to do???
I'm more more at a loss as the person who made the comment is my fiance and having problems with the notion that the potential grandmother of his future children is a Christian. I don't really know how to address this, for myself I've live a very involved and active jewish life, and have since I was 12 years old. I've been in Habo, on the council of Jewish student, Hagshama, security groups etc.. However he has questions regarding continuity of his tradition and family tradition.. and I'm not sure how to address these? My continuity is obviously in line with Abraham and Sarah, but in terms of familial members only my brother is Jewish (there are only the two of us in the family).
Any help would be appreciated,
I am sure you have heard that as a
convert, you are actually considered "new entities" and technically lose
all former familial relationships. According to this principle it would
appear that a convert to Judaism would not be obligated to fulfill all
the myriad difficult requirements associated with the mitzvah in the 10
commandments of Honor thy Father and thy Mother.
the Rambam (Maimonedes) in Hilchos Mamrim 5:10 clearly states that
although the Biblical commandment of Honor thy Father and Mother does
not halachakly apply, still a convert must not mistreat his parents in
any way. In the words of Maimonedes "a convert to Judaism is prohibited
to curse, smite or shame his biological father. One is even required to
honor his biological parents somewhat". This is on a Rabbinic level not
a Biblical level but it is prohibited nevertheless.
Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe 2:130) writes that, in fact, gentiles are not
obligated in the formal mitzva of honoring parents that applies to the
Jewish people. They are, however, obligated in the fundamental precept
of "hakarat hatov" - showing gratitude, a universal value. Needless to
say, anyone with a sense of appreciation for kindness bestowed upon him
would display a considerable level of respect towards his/her parents,
who gave him/her his/her life and went through the trouble of rearing
him/her. Therefore, although the specific Biblical laws of "kibbud av
v'em" do not apply to biological parents after the children convert,
they must nevertheless honor their parents whereas they are included in
the universal obligation of showing gratitude.
We clearly see
that you may continue your relationship with your mother and provided
that there are no religious influences that will confuse your future
children, your fiance shouldn't have a problem with it.
he does have a problem with it.
I would make an appointment
together with your fiance to speak with his Rabbi and come to an
understanding on this issue. I beg you to please follow this piece of
advice. DO NOT GO INTO THIS WITHOUT COMPLETELY CLARIFYING AND ADDRESSING
THIS ISSUE. Be above board entirely and let him understand a)your
sincerity, b)the impossibility of your severing your relationship with
your biological mother with whom you are on good terms, c)the
improbability that your mother would choose to religiously influence
your future children.
Having said that, please do not discount
your fiance's concerns. He only wants to do what is right. This is his
perception of right. I am sure that he's not trying to be difficult but
he does not think that there is any other solution to his concern. You
will have to address those concerns.
Speak to his Rabbi with him
and come to an agreement.
Best wishes for a happy marriage. May
you build a true house in